New CWEP Stormwater Video Heading to a Theater Near You this December!

We are very excited to release our new animated stormwater video that we’ve been working hard on over the last few months! This 30-second version of our full-length video will be shown in theaters across the region this holiday season, so tell your friends: If you’re headed to the movies between December 15th and 29th, grab a seat a little early to catch this ad rolling a few minutes before the previews start!

You can find our full-length videos in both English and Spanish, as well as individual pollutant spots you can use at home, at work, or in the classroom on our Resources page.

City of Raleigh Capture It! Stormwater Art Contest Open Now!

Getting Students Interested in Water Quality Through Art and Film

The City of Raleigh Division of Stormwater Management is currently accepting entries for its ‘Capture It! Stormwater Arts Contest’. This is an opportunity for high school students to capture the importance of stormwater runoff through art and film in a way that will bring more awareness to the community about improving the water quality of Raleigh’s streams and lakes.

Students are encouraged to create one of the following to show residents how they can help keep streams clean.

  • A 60-second video;
  • A painting to be placed on a rain barrel; or,
  • A drawing to be used as a stencil for City of Raleigh storm drain covers.

Registration closes Friday, January 26, 2018. Winners in each category will receive a $300 prize, and will be featured at the 2018 Raleigh Environmental Awards. So get out there, make some art, and change your community for the better!

Spotlight on Chapel Hill – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Chapel Hill and their robust stormwater program. Check out their fun local events educating their community about the importance of clean water!

2017 FestiFALL!

The Chapel Hill FESTIFALL was held on October 1, 2017. Participants were able to interact with Chapel Hill stormwater staff and get watershed smart!

During the FestiFALL, the Chapel Hill Stormwater Management’s booth had three stations:

  1. Find Your Watershed on the local map;

IMG_0158Jason Salat, Chapel Hill Stormwater Management, helps a resident find her address on the map and identify the subwatershed in which she lives.

2. Learn about pollution sources and how we can prevent water pollution with the Enviroscape watershed model;

IMG_0167Visitors of all ages learn about stormwater runoff and how we can prevent pollution through the Enviroscape watershed model activity.

3) Take a Pledge and get your photo taken with Grandma Beaver!

Jayden and Pedro make a pledge to pick up litter!Jayden and Pedro promise not to litter to keep our water cleaner and get their pictures taken with Grandma Beaver.

 

PERFECT WEATHER, PERFECT TEAMWORK!

The annual litter cleanup on Bolin Creek was held on Saturday, October 21, 2017 was a lot of fun for the 47 volunteers who learned about the watershed, then spruced up a public housing community and paths along the creek with removal of about 500 pounds of trash.  The 75% reduction of trash from a year ago was significant and illustrated better awareness and care of our environment as well as no recent flooding.

Perfect fall weather helped participants enjoy nature while working together during the cool morning.  Many thanks go to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools’ Blue Ribbon Mentor Program, Chapel Hill High School Student Environmental Education Coalition, Carrboro High School AP Environmental Science students, Chapel Hill Police Department and academy recruits, Stormwater Management’s volunteer stream monitors, Chapel Hill Public Housing staff, and families and friends who wanted to lend a helping hand!

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The only litter returned to the ground was a piece of wet cardboard under which two marbled salamanders guarded their eggs, waiting for a rain to hatch. Click this link to learn more about these critters!

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For more information about Chapel Hill Stormwater Management and the work they are doing to keep our water clean and healthy, contact Wendy Smith, Community Education Coordinator, at 919-969-7246.

 

Keep your Community Beautiful on “America Recycles Day”!

Here at CWEP, we know that clean and healthy water goes beyond just keeping leaves and oil out of our storm drains. It means supporting an entire system of sustainability and keeping our nation trash-free. One of the ways we can achieve this goal is through recycling. Today, the national non-profit Keep America Beautiful, which aims to increase national appearance through community involvement in cleanup and beautification projects, is hosting their annual event, “America Recycles Day.” America Recycles Day happens every year on November 15th, and communities from all over the nation participate with a variety of events from social media campaigns to local cleanups to school recycling education. There are over 2,504 registered events this year alone!

Here in North Carolina, we have a number of events, some of which are hosted by CWEP members. The Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden (VEBCOG) in New Bern is hosting a Feed the Worms event in which they will be educating the public about compost and collecting vegetable food scraps, newspapers and cardboard to feed their worms over the winter. On Saturday, November 18th, CWEP member Spring Lake will be hosting a fall litter sweep to keep their town looking its best. During the event Spring Lake will also be accepting non-standard recyclables, such as e-waste, tires, eye glasses, cellphones, and medicine. If you don’t live in New Bern or Spring Lake, don’t worry, The State of North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance & Customer Service (DEACS) Recycling and Materials Management Section (RAMMS) is also hosting an event for America Recycles Day. Their event is social media-based and asks state agencies, businesses, and citizens to take photos of people who are recycling using the hashtag #CaughtRecycling. They also ask that people tag them in the posts on Twitter and Facebook at @RecycleMoreNC as well as sharing other pictures of their community’s events.

If your community got involved (or if you or someone you know got #CaughtRecycling), be sure to let them know!

There’s More Than One Way to Cut a Turkey: Alternative Methods of Grease Disposal

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans create 25% more waste than during the rest of the year? Yikes. That’s a lot of waste. And much of that waste comes from cooking, especially grease and fat from our favorite holiday turkeys and hams. As we learned in last week’s blog post, grease can cause a major hazard if not disposed of correctly. This holiday season, make sure to keep our stormwater clean and our stormwater systems functioning at peak efficiency by keeping it out of the drain. You may choose to dispose of grease in the trash or designated grease recycling centers.

However, disposal isn’t your only option for keeping our sewers fat-free. If you’re big into reusing, don’t worry, you don’t have to throw away or recycle your oil — you can use it for future cooking or crafts! You can use leftover grease and fat to make a roux, garnish your soup, sauté greens, or make salad dressings, bread, or pasta sauce. On the craft side, you can make candles, make dog and bird treats, or add it to your compost. For a full list of ideas of how to reuse oil, as well as information on what kind of oils to use for what cooking, check out this page from Fix.com

 

 

(Featured image from the municipal government of Addison, TX. Source)

What Lurks Below

Last month, London sewage workers discovered an enormous greaseball blocking the pipes in the Whitechapel neighborhood, creating a nasty situation and limiting water flow. The ball, weighing 130 tons, took 3 weeks for workers to break down using high-pressure water jets. It was made of a combination of hardened grease and fat from food production as well as wet wipes, diapers, and other non-flushables that had been flushed down the toilet. Experts say that if the ball had not been caught when it was, waste could have started to burst from manholes and flow through the streets of London. Watch the London Fatberg in action here.

It’s not just London that’s in danger of having its sewage system ruined by improper waste disposal; many towns and cities may have greaseballs lurking beneath them, too! So how can we make sure our pipes are functional and our streets stay feces-free? There are many things we can do in our kitchens and restaurants to dispose of cooking grease, fats, and oils the right way and keep our pipes flowing smoothly, especially as the holidays approach!

  1. Make sure to let the grease cool before either pouring it in the trash or into a storage container.
  2. Once you’ve poured out the grease properly, make sure to wipe out your pots and pans with a paper towel to remove any grease that might be stuck to your cookware. Be sure to do the same with plates!
  3. Check if your municipality has a grease recycling program like Durham, which accepts and recycles cooking oil free of charge.
  4. As for toilets, remember that only toilet paper should be flushed. Most wet wipes are not meant to go through our pipes and sanitary napkins and tampons should never be flushed either. We are fortunate that our sewage treatments systems are top-notch, but that doesn’t mean we should overload them. When in doubt, throw it out!

 

The Importance of Infrastructure in the face of Natural Disasters

Continuing with our lead-up to “Imagine a Day Without Water”, this post focuses on the recent disaster-related impacts of failing infrastructure from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, some of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in many years. There is currently a capital need of $123 billion per year to close the gap between increasing demand and decreasing maintenance of water infrastructure – and this gap is widening every day.

At the intersection of both negligence and disaster-caused infrastructure lies Puerto Rico. The country, recently hit by Hurricane Maria, has very little functioning infrastructure, and many residents will be without power for up to six months. Therefore, they are without access to water and sewer infrastructure as well. Seeing as Maria was the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in almost 80 years, it would be easy to assume that the current infrastructure issues are the result of the unprecedented storm. However, as Dr. Yarimar Bonilla, Rutgers professor and Puerto Rican native, points out in a recent NPR segment, the problem started long before with the government’s decision to prioritize paying off debt rather than performing basic maintenance on the country’s electric, water, and wastewater systems. She notes that much of the damage could have been avoided if the proper maintenance work had been done when it was necessary. Now, with the addition of the storm damage, the issue is much more difficult (and costly) to solve. Listen to the full podcast here.

In Florida, Hurricane Irma overloaded local infrastructure, causing physical damage and health risks. Raw sewage and wastewater flooded the streets as a result of failed pumping stations and backed up sewers. Due to overwhelmed and under-maintained infrastructure, rebuilding will take even longer, as efforts can only begin when the area is “clean, dry, and free from potential health hazards.” The situation in Florida points to the necessity of designing infrastructure systems to fit local needs, such as extreme weather. Read more about the affects of Hurricane Irma on infrastructure here.

Keeping our natural waterways clean is important, but so is making sure our manmade water systems stay so as well. Make sure your local, state, and federal officials know you value investing in our nation’s infrastructure!

Safe, Reliable Water – At Risk!

This blog post was provided by the Value of Water Campaign, which works to promote awareness of the importance of clean drinking water access, and leads the Imagine a Day Without Water efforts. http://thevalueofwater.org/

With all the division in our government, it is easy to forget there are some policy priorities that actually cut across party lines and geographical boundaries. Constituents may have different opinions on health care and tax reform, but they have a lot in common too. They get up in the morning and brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and make coffee. Many of them commute to school or work. They travel with their families on summer vacations and for holidays. They buy groceries and eat at restaurants.

When it comes to the essentials, we really do have more that unites us than divides us, which is why the majority of Americans want the federal government to prioritize investing in infrastructure. Earlier this year, voters were polled on what they wanted the federal government to focus on for a legislative agenda. By a double-digit margin, investment in infrastructure was the most important topic above any other issue. Two thirds of voters said so. And an astonishing 82 percent of Americans said water infrastructure needed to be a top priority. Eighty-two percent of Americans can’t even agree on what day of the week it is!

But if you think about it, water unites all of us. Of course people say it should be a priority. Can you even begin to imagine a day without water? It isn’t just your personal use of water – brushing your teeth, flushing your toilet, taking a shower – though those rituals are vital. Water is also essential to a functioning economy. What is a college campus or a hotel supposed to do if there is no water? They close. How can a restaurant, coffee shop, or brewery serve customers without water to cook, make coffee and beer, or wash the dishes? They can’t. And what about manufacturers – from pharmaceuticals to automobiles – that rely on water? They would grind to a halt too.

An economic study released by the Value of Water Campaign earlier this year found that a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk. But investing in water infrastructure, unfortunately, has not been a priority for decades. The federal government’s investment has declined precipitously, leaving states, localities, and water utilities to make up the difference. Which means it is on localities to raise taxes, or for utilities to charge water rates that can pay for the massive infrastructure system of pumps, plants, and pipes. And the truth is, communities across the country have let those systems deteriorate for far too long.

We saw the tragedy in Flint, Michigan where thousands of residents were affected by tainted water supplies. Water systems in other communities are under threat too, and millions of Americans live in regions that completely lack water infrastructure.

There is no doubt about it – a day without water is a crisis. That is why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water, because we want people to pay attention to our water systems. This country can do great things, and if 82 percent of Americans agree on something it must be important. Water is a public health issue, it is an economic issue. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water supply. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American ever has to imagine a day without water again.

As the third annual “Imagine A Day Without Water” approaches on October 12th, we invite you view this video from the Value Water Campaign and imagine how your life would be impacted if we did not have ready access to safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water in this country.

Get Ready for A Day Without Water!

No, we’re not shutting off the pipes. CWEP and our member counties and municipalities are gearing up for A Day Without Water, an annual awareness event run by the Value of Water Campaign, or VWC. The VWC works to educate people about how much water they use and how we can get smarter about our water usage so that “a day without water” can be a pithy title, not reality.

Wanna get started on the fun? Head over to the water calculator to see how much water your household uses in a day. The results may surprise you! And if you do find the number as shocking as we did, no need to worry! The calculator gives you tips and tricks on how to save water — and the planet.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach and want to better understand how the water from your faucet gets there, consider booking a tour at a water and wastewater treatment plant in Raleigh, Durham, or Hillsborough. You can also check with your local plant for their tour options. Tours are free of charge and range from 1 to 3 hours. It’s a great after school activity! Make sure to act fast, however, as tour requests typically must be made at least two weeks in advance (so if you want to go on A Day Without Water, you’ll need to request a tour by Thursday, September 28th!).

We’ll be posting in the coming weeks about more ways you can get involved, but if you just can’t wait to learn more, you can check out more information who’s participating and the event itself on the website.

You can learn more about the VWC here.

Spotlight on Garner: Stormwater Program of the Month

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Garner, a tiny town with a huge commitment to stormwater management. Check out their unique solutions and exciting community events below!
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Volunteers Needed!

Help keep Garner Clean & Green!
 
Who: The Town of Garner
What: Semi-annual street and stream cleanup
When: Saturday, September 16 from 9-11am
Where: White Deer Park, 2400 Aversboro Road, Garner, NC 27529
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Breakfast, cleanup supplies, and water provided free of charge to all volunteers. Contact Jaclyn Sumner for more information about the event.

 
Did you know?
Town of Garner received the 2017 NC Source Water Protection Award of Excellence along with PEG Media partners, which help direct, film and edit all of Garner’s informative stormwater videos. Garner has been making these videos for several years, helping residents know what they can do to help keep our water supply clean and free from pollutants. Check out the videos at these links:
 
Water Quality:
 
Pet Waste:
 
Illicit Discharge:
 
 Little Town, Big Success
 
Garner prides itself on being a small town with a reputation for being customer friendly, but did you know they have a top-notch storm water program as well? For over 30 years, Garner has been performing stormwater management and watershed planning to protect local waterways and Lake Benson from pollutants and downstream flooding. New and innovative stormwater control measures have been designed and built on town properties and both new and redevelopment. This commitment to responsible stormwater management can be seen at parks such as White Deer and Lake Benson as well as on the new Town Hall campus.
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Help us keep up the good work by coming out to the semi-annual street and stream cleanup! We’ll be picking up litter that would otherwise flow into Lake Benson and pollute our drinking water. Contact Jaclyn Sumner for further information.
 
Questions? We’re here for you
For more information or specific questions, please contact Jaclyn Sumner, Stormwater Program Administrator in the Town of Garner Engineering Department (p) 919-773-4421|jsumner@garnernc.gov